Plastic Waste : The New Epidemic

India generates 5.6 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, and the country accounts for 60 percent of plastic waste dumped into the world’s oceans every year, estimates suggest. Three of the world’s ten rivers which carry 90 percent of plastic to the world’s oceans are in India–the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra.

Twenty-five Indian states/Union territories now have some form of ban on polythene carry bags, but the implementation is often lax as a result 600 truckloads of polythene carry bags discarded every day.

Several authorities are mandated to enforce the ban, often leading to “shunting responsibility” from one department to the next. The ban will be effectively enforced only when there is a robust system to aggregate the proofs of enforcement while also giving due credit to the concerned officers and departments.

There is no system to audit or validate this enforcement. This validation should be done by a third party that is not an enforcer. Several political parties—including the ruling party—widely uses flex banners, buntings and other banned plastics.

Plastic should be banned nationwide and only biodegradable plastic bags should be in use in accordance with the efforts being made by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Using a plastic bag can attract fines—from Rs 500 to Rs 25,000—and storage and distribution can lead to imprisonment up to five years but even after this since the enforcement is lax we see no visible results on ground.